Energy on the Rise

I’ve had a good week. I have been dedicated to doing my runs — I’m now at 3 minute running intervals. And, with my new tracker, I have also been dedicated to making sure I have 10,000 steps per day. This has been a very helpful motivator for me on days where I have no plans and I would often stay in bed. This week, at least, I’ve beat the temptation. And the more I am active, the more I feel like being active. Yay!

I’ve been reading a lot lately on the benefits of exercise for depression and other mental illnesses. And the benefits for the brain in general. I find it helpful to think in terms blazing new pathways in my brain and how I have to keep reinforcing them to make them strong and replace the old, well-worn paths.

So that’s where I am right now. Finding my way out of the funk of winter and easing my way back to an active lifestyle with walks and short running intervals.

Hope you are well!

Psyching myself up to run

I’ve been meaning to start running again and have made a couple of false starts over the past month or two. Today I tried again.

I’ve actually signed myself up to run a half-marathon. Something I haven’t done in almost five years, and since many pounds ago.

Now that I’m finally over my cold, today I took steps to get myself outside to run. It took an extraordinary amount of mind games to do so.

Step 1:
I brought my running shoes in from the car yesterday and left them by the door where I could see them.

Step 2:
After a missed workout and headache this afternoon, I napped and then ate veggies and perked up.

Step 3:
I put on my running gear and went outside.

Step 4:
It started to rain literally the moment I went out the door! A sudden heavy rain. Way to test my resolve! Did I continue or go back inside? Would the rain last long? I knew it had taken weeks to get me to the point of putting on my running shoes and getting out the door, so I decided to continue. I looked in the direction I was planning to run and there weren’t so many clouds that way, so I hoped for the best, telling myself that I would simply run around the block if the rain got heavier.

Step 5:
It turned out to be isolated showers so the beginning was the worst of it. I was glad I had continued on. I started running towards the paths as I’m not so close to them anymore. I ran past people on their lawns and had it in my head that they were laughing at someone as fat as me out trying to run. I kept going.

Step 6:
I set out to run four 5-minute sets with one minute walking breaks in between. Set one: okay. Set two: okay. Set three: my heart rate was really elevated and I was out of breath, I ran two minutes and then walked a few minutes. I passed a lot of young people who I again had in my head as laughing at me – and I said to myself – so what? I could notice that my walking breaks were jauntier and I had to start somewhere. If I let what other people thought (or what I imagined they thought) get in my way, I’d only get more and more out of shape.

Step 7:
I was getting tired but I decided to fit in more spurts of running. Run two minutes and then you can walk again, run from this stoplight to the next stoplight and then you can walk again, one more block to get home, you can run that.

So I did it. I ran and walked for a total of 3.44 kilometres in 31 minutes. Sure I used to run 5 km in the same amount of time with longer stretches of running. But that wasn’t important.

Running is a mind game as much as it is about your body. Today the real goal was to just go outside and run however far I could get in 25-30 minutes.

Mission accomplished.

Next goal: to repeat this within the next two days.

Self-Reflection

Another one of my yoga homework tasks is self-reflection. Ironically, I have so much yoga homework that I’ve done a lot less self-reflection than normal. (Another reason is also that I still have a house guest.)

But tonight I will blog and self-reflect. 🙂

Today was a chaotic day at work. My supervisor was really, really stressed. So much so that I felt I needed to keep reassuring her that things would be okay.

I have general anxiety disorder, but the thing is that I think I generally perform well in a “real” crisis. It’s like there is no time to worry, I just have to do things to get stuff done. Here is where perhaps my procrastination gave me good training. By leaving everything to the last minute (a habit I had long before it was worry-driven), I’m used to performing under fire. So I’m generally ok in crisis mode. Though I do usually crash afterwards.

But I can’t this time! Because not only is this project nearing the end, so is my yoga teacher training and I need to be fresh to start a new job too.

So I think that for my self-reflection homework over the next few days, I’ll periodically assess how I am doing. Am I running myself to the limit? Am I taking a daily walk at lunch for fresh air and space to keep myself centered? Can I keep my focus on things I can control? Can I keep my composure and generate a calming presence?

I’d like reflect on how I handle this stressful week. And I want to do periodic checkins with myself where I assess if I am becoming stressed and if I can take an action to help with that. Take deep breaths, go for a walk, whatever. I need to work hard but I also need to be compassionate to myself so that I’m not burnt out in time for my next challenge.

That’s the plan, anyway! We’ll see how it goes! 🙂

Re-centering

What an exhausting week! I’ve been so tired and off. But it’s almost Friday, yay!

I was in a really bad mood earlier and ready to crawl back into bed. But I finally managed to resist. I realized the impetus to hide today was habit rather than inability to cope. I went for a nice half hour walk to work and things got better with fresh air.

I’ve been heading to bed for a nap every day after work. This hasn’t been working so well, so today I decided to go to a yoga meditation class instead. Somehow the extended period of lying at rest while awake is more refreshing than a nap. I definitely felt a lot better after class.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend. I have tons of homework to do, but no training, so I’m hoping for a more balanced weekend.

*yawn* I’m very sleepy so good night!

Back to running: Step one

This year, I really want to start running again. Before depression and injuries hit, I was able to run half marathons!

Today, I took the first step: I walked home from work on what was our first nice sunny spring day this year.

The walk was a brisk walk of thirty minutes, and a little less than 3 km. But it’s the first step for many reasons.

1) My biggest issue is always just getting out there and doing it. I love it when I do get out, but that is always a problem because I build it up to this big mountainous task in my head.

2) I never even got out my bike last summer, let alone ran, so this is the opportunity to scope things out, find the best paths and be inspired by all the other runners I see along the way. I think exposure will be key.

3) I’ve been doing lots of yoga but no other exercise. And you really do need to walk before you run. This was a good walk, and it had hills too! So it’s a good warm-up for my leg muscles.

Let’s hope today’s success inspires a second step! 🙂

One Week Challenge

Now that I’m somewhat settled into my new job, I’ve realized I’ve stopped taking steps to improve my health, both mental and physical. So I’ve decided to commit myself to my own personal one week challenge.

In the past I’ve found short term challenges to be helpful, though this is an especially short one. My goal: to set goals that will prompt me in healthier directions while remaining doable and non-intimidating. The catch with my perfectionism is that when something is too big, I get overwhelmed and freeze. And often end up hiding in my bed, seeking to avoid the world and my failure.

So here is the challenge that I decided on.

For each day this week, from November 8 to November 14, I will do each of the following:

      Go to one yoga class
      Take one ten-minute walk outside (walking to yoga will more than get two birds with one stone!)
      Apply for one job (I still need a long term position)
      Clean or organize one thing

Not too hefty, I hope, while addressing my physical health – I really need to get back into shape while also energizing myself – and two of my stressors – the lack of a long term career and a cluttered environment. I’ve made it a goal this year to get rid of things I don’t need. But that in itself is an intimidating goal so I often procrastinate. Let’s hope this bite size approach will help!

I will keep you posted on how my challenge goes. Wish me luck! 🙂

Running Around

The past few days involved a lot of running around. Not in the sense of jogging down a path (one day!) but in the sense of going here and there about town running errands.

The two biggest appointments were with my psychiatrist (yesterday) and my therapist (today). I’m getting a little annoyed that I keep having to return to the medical centre two days in a row. Luckily the next two will be a week apart. It’s a bit tiring rehashing the same things two days in a row!

My psychiatrist and I are happy with my progress and next week I’ll be able to completely drop the Pristiq from my cocktail of medications. Hurray! One down, two to go! 😉

My counselling session also went well. There were lots of successes to note and my therapist was very pleased that rather than stumbling when my original goal of walking daily proved too ambitious, I instead broke it down into smaller steps. By modifying the goal to simply going outside daily I was able to meet the goal, going outside every day for three weeks straight. I think the only other time I’ve done that in the past few years was while travelling!

Of course, now I have more homework.

      Come up with two mantras to get me out of bed each day. (The homework I didn’t finish for this session!) I need to stop being a perfectionist and just come up with two phrases that work for me.
      Move on to phase two in my “get out and walk” plan. Now I will walk at least 4 blocks each day. (And hopefully continue for more, but that is my “doable” baseline.) It can be at any time of day for this stage.
      Explore the idea of joining a local walking club to start me down the path of eventually running again. (I still keep dreaming of another half-marathon…)
      Commit to a plan for bad days, because they will happen. If I have a day where I struggle to get out of bed due to depression, insomnia or whatever, I will do the following: After feeding the cat, rather than crawling back into bed, I will go to the living room, open the curtains to let in the light, and rest on the couch. It is okay to nap there if I really need it. But I cannot return to bed until nightfall.
      Continue to blog at least once per week.

So, that is the plan. I’m feeling good today, so I’m somewhat confident that I can do it. I hope so! It is feels nice to have accomplished so much these past few weeks! 🙂